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Not to be taken internally

I don’t drink coffee.

Maybe I’ve had one cup’s worth in my life, because I’ve just never developed a taste for it, and never saw a reason to do so. But I’m lucky, never having a mind-numbing 9-to-5 cubicle job that required doses of caffeine to get me through the day.

However. Yesterday at the office, I was editing video when the afternoon energy dip hit me. Normally I can shake if off after a few minutes by walking or doing the office dishes, but this time it was persistent. Luckily, sitting on my desk was a bottle of that 5-hour energy drink, bought for just this purpose. Feeling like Dr. Jekyll, I downed it, damn the consequences.

The first consequence to be damned was a strong tart tingle or buzz around my head and neck. Maybe it was some fruity extract, maybe it was the caffeine, who knows — but it reminded me of the tart stuff you swish in your mouth at the dentist. Somebody’s idea of how to make something palatable. The second consequence was the energy, as promised. I went right back to work, moved swiftly, made decisions confidently, with no thought of stopping. It did the job.

However, the third consequence was a surprise, though not to regular coffee drinkers, probably. No, there wasn’t a crash, not at all. The energy level was sustained right into the Tai Chi class that I was teaching that night. After the usual friendly chat, we moved to our end of the gym to begin warmups. And I started talking. And talking. And talking. I wouldn’t shut up. I think my content was worthwhile, but man, I just wouldn’t shut up. Kind of like this. So we started a set. And though it was part of the lesson for me to describe what was happening during the set, I just wouldn’t shut up.

Then the anxiety crept in. Everything was paced faster, but it was a nervous pacing, based in a feeling of insecurity. I attributed it to being busy at work and pressed by other commitments. But when my wife said that I didn’t seem myself, (and I agreed, not feeling like myself) it hit me.

It was the bloody energy drink.

The label says it contains the caffeine of one cup of coffee. If that’s what one cup of coffee does to me, you can have it. Maybe the epidemic of anxiety has something to do with the excessive consumption of coffee. And sleeping pills to bring you down. And anti-depressants. Maybe nobody’s surprised by this, and I look like the biggest noob.

At any rate, it’s funny how some things can appear from the outside. I guess I’m lucky to be able to see caffeine for what it is.

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  1. May 21st, 2009 at 23:10 | #1

    I have been caffeine-free since 1999. You really have to read labels. If you don’t drink coffee, or caffeinated cola beverages, it’s probably a good idea to avoid all caffeine-containing products. We have no built-up tolerance for it. I recommend peppermint tea because it is a mental stimulant. It certainly helps in the morning. No reason why it wouldn’t help one in the throes of the “afternoon energy dip.”

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